While I was traveling to California on AirTran, I read their GO magazine. In the magazine was an article about using their online comunity to design t-shirts that they sell for $12 to $25. They have on-going design contests where the winners receive $2000 prize and the company gets the design.
Have you ever heard of the term "crowdsourcing"? It comes from Jeff Howe from Wired magazine. The term describes "using an open-call model where a web-based community replaces work done by a small group of professionals." This is the ultimate use of Web 2.0, in my opinion.
Could we use this sort of thing to design usable websites or Help or other technical communication products? Here are four of the company's commandments:
1- Allow users to help create your content. Whatever the project, let your users help make it better. (Usability anyone?)
2- Make sure your project is in the hands of the community. Listen to what the members of your community have to say and make them part of your company.
3- Let your community grow itself. Nurture the community and give them the tools to spread the word.
4- Reward the community that makes your project possible. They started with prize money of $50 for winning designs and now they pay $2000.
What do you think?